Groklaw blog closes citing surveillance threat

Groklaw blog closes citing surveillance threat

Summary: Top tech law blogger Pamela Jones draws shutters saying there is no way to do Groklaw without email.

TOPICS: Patents, Legal

One of techland's most famous blogsites, Groklaw, is apparently closing down due to the threat of email surveillance.

Founder Pamela Jones has posted saying she has spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how to continue.

"And the conclusion I've reached is that there is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad," she wrote. "But it's good to be realistic. And the simple truth is, no matter how good the motives might be for collecting and screening everything we say to one another, and no matter how 'clean' we all are ourselves from the standpont of the screeners, I don't know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don't know how to do Groklaw like this."

Groklaw rose to fame for its coverage of the SCO intellectual property lawsuits against the likes of IBM and Novell. It went on to cover a host of other cases, often defining the interface between open source and proprietary software.

"They tell us that if you send or receive an email from outside the US, it will be read. If it's encrypted, they keep it for five years, presumably in the hopes of tech advancing to be able to decrypt it against your will and without your knowledge. Groklaw has readers all over the world.

"I'm not a political person, by choice, and I must say, researching the latest developments convinced me of one thing - I am right to avoid it."

Jones was an electronic Frontiers Foundation Pioneer Award winner in 2010. 

"You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say?" Jones wrote. "Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel.

"So. There we are. The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can't do Groklaw without your input. I was never exaggerating about that when we won awards. It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate."

Jones wrote that she has shifted her email to a Swiss provider.

"My personal decision is to get off of the Internet to the degree it's possible. I'm just an ordinary person. But I really know, after all my research and some serious thinking things through, that I can't stay online personally without losing my humanness, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible. I find myself unable to write. I've always been a private person. That's why I never wanted to be a celebrity and why I fought hard to maintain both my privacy and yours."

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Topics: Patents, Legal

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  • It's not email that's the issue but surveillance

    There are alternatives to email quite clearly however, they are all vulnerable to surveillance. The statement should read: There is no way to do Groklaw without surveillance.

  • My government has silenced a bright light, again.

    I've never contributed to Groklaw but I have read and learned a lot
    I understand why but I am terribly saddened by it
    I love my country but my government is out of control
    I want this to stop but am terrified of what will happen if I speak out to loudly
    My government has stepped off the slippery slope and is descending rapidly
    May the citizens not be judged to harshly
  • Authoritarianism at work

    I shudder to think what America will be like in 20 years.
    terry flores
  • what a pity

    groklaw is closed. This is really sad to learn and will reverberate negatively not only in the free software world, but freedom in general.
    However, one can suppose that NSA, Microsoft, Oracle, Apple et al. can now get finally together and party for a long time.
  • Tha Alternative

    The Internet is what it is... Not sure we can correct its course. We need a new service ill call it the "Enternet" where the expectations are established and maintained so the excesses both gov and comercial of the Internet are avoided.
  • Good Riddance

    Just saw that Crocklaw is dead. I've never been a fan as it seemed to just be an amateur legal opinion site that never had any sway on any case and obviously had a skewed agenda. It was just a forum of wannabe lawyers trying to make themselves feel good with self-help pseudo-legal therapy on unrealistic conspiracy theories and asinine legal analysis. Ironically, SCO outlives Crocklaw and they are the ones wearing the red dress. It puzzles me that any legitimate news site would quote a "Pamela Jones" that no one seems to have ever seen or can prove physically exists. I guess those IBM paychecks to her have stopped.

    I think there is more behind this shutdown than meets the eye. Somebody may be in a little hot water over access to confidential information that they shouldn't have had and there's a trail now.

    Stick a fork in in it!
    • Thanks for that. Did you once work for SCO?

      Wow, the venom is thick with this one!